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House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 14

 

House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 14

 

PART I
 
Judge Pyncheon, while Clifford and Hepzibah have been 'away, stili sits in the old living room. To him, we must now re-turn. He has not changed his position. He stili holds his watch in his hand. If we suppose that he is asleep, how deeply he sleeps! But he seems not even to move. Yet he cannot be asleep. His eyes are open.
 
It is strange that a man so busy and impor-tant as he lets time pass in this way. Today was to have been a very busy day for him. First, he was to talk with Clifford. This would take, according to his plans, not more than half an hour at most—even keeping in mind that cousin Hepzibah might prove difficult.
 
Yet several hours have already gone by and he stili sits vvaiting. Later he planned to talk with several impor-tant business men. He wanted to buy, among other things, some new trees to be planted in the garden of his rich country home. Then he was going to visit his family doctor. He had not been feeling too well the last few days. It was nothing important.
 
His heart beat a little strangely at times. He had a strange coughing sensation in his throat. The doctor would no doubt smile at these things. He would smile in return—and he and the doctor would have a good laugh together. Judge Pyncheon was a very strong man. AH he needed was a little rest.
 
But, Heavens! Look at your watch, Judge Pyncheon. It is now almost dinner time. Is it possible that you, who like to eat
 
1.  What was he going to do first thing today? How long was this going to take him?
2. What had he wanted to buy?
3. Who was he then going to visit? Why?
4. Why would he and the doctor have a good laugh together?
5. Why was dinner today to be a very special one?
6. Why could the judge not appear at the meeting?
7. What sounds come to the House of the Seven Gables when it grows dark?
8.  What happened to the judge’s watch during the night?
 
PART II
 
The weather the next moming was beautiful. The sun shone. There were no clouds in the sky. It was as if Mother Nature was trying to make up for the five days of bad weather that had gone before. Uncle Venner was the first person to pass in the Street outside the House of the Seven Gables.
 
He went from house to house, picking up the leftover vegetables and other food which the housevvives of that section put outside for him each day to give to his pig. Arriving at the House of the Seven Gables, he was surprised to find that Miss Hepzibah had left nothing for him.
 
“I never knew Miss Hepzibah to forget me before,” he said. “They must have had dinner last night. There is no question about that. But where are the left-overs? If little Phoebe were here, I wouldn’t mind knocking—but Miss Hepzibah will no doubt scowl down at me out of the window and look angry even if she felt pleasantly. I’ll come back later.”
 
With these thoughts Uncle Venner was just about to leave vvhen an upstairs window opened. Mr. Holgrave, the photog- rapher, put his head out the window.
 
so well, would let the dinner hour pass? You surely remember, too, that this dinner was to be a vcry spccial one. Several im-portant public men, officials of the town and state, were meet-ing to decide who was to be the next governor of the state. What better man could they find than Judge Pyncheon! He was known to everyone, honest, rich—a man of great influeııce in j both the town and the state. Yes, they had almost decided that he was to be their party representative. Stili, now it is growing late. The dinner is över. The wine has been drunk. The judge has not appeared. What is more, he could not possibly appear at such a meeting with blood on his beard and collar. The men can wait no longer. They finally decide upon someone else to be the party representative and to become the next governor of the state.
 
Up, therefore, Judge Pyncheon! Up! You have already lost this day—but tomorrovv will soon be here. Will you rise and make the best of it or will you let it pass as you did today?
 
Now comes the night. It grows dark outside. The house, too, is soon dark as a grave. The wind blows. It seems to blow with a strange haunting sound through every room of the old house.
 
Or perhaps these sounds come, not from the wind, but from the many dead spirits who, after two hundred years, come each night to visit the family home. Is Judge Pyncheon afraid? Not at ali.
 
He does not believe ali the stories that are told about the old House of the Seven Gables. He continues to sit there calmly, without moving. He looks at his watch—but now his watch has stopped.
 
It has run down and no longer telis the hour. How strange that for the first time in many years Judge Pyncheon, who is so exact in everything, has let his watch run down. At exactly ten o’clock each night, just a half hour before going to bed, he has always wound his watch. But tonight the judge is clearly not himself. So many strange things have happened. Everything has been so greatly changed.
 
PART III
 
In the course of the morning there were several others who called at the House of the Seven Gables. These were mostly people from whom Hepzibah was accustomed to buy food for the table or things for her shop. No one was able to get in. In the early aftemoon a young Italian boy passed by with his music box.
 
He had played before in front of the house, and Clif-ford or Phoebe had thrown money to him from the upstairs window. He stood under the tree in front of the house and played for some time. A crowd of children came to listen to him —but no one appeared in the House of the Seven Gables. He looked up toward the upstairs window where Phoebe and Clif-ford often sat. Today the window was closed. The house was silent.
 
“I say, young man,” said a man who happened to pass by, “com'e away from that door and go somevvhere else with your foolish music. The Pyncheon family lives there, and they are in great trouble just about this time. They can’t feel much like listening to music today. It is said ali över town that Judge Pyncheon has been murdered—and the town officials are going to look into the matter. Be ofî with you at once.”
 
It was not more than half an hour after this that a cab came down the Street. It stopped in front of the Pyncheon tree. The cab man took several boxes from the cab and put them in front of the house.
 
Then the pretty figüre of a young girl appeared from the cab. It was Phoebe. Though she seemed a little less young than when she first appeared weeks earlier, she was stili pretty and cheerful.
 
She went first to the shop door and tried to enter there, but the door would not open. The vvhite curtain was stili drawn across the upper part of the door. This seemed